Sunday, August 15, 2004

Do You Believe in Butt-Kickings?

Boy, just watched the USA Basketball team get its clock cleaned by Puerto Rico.

Interesting game for me, from a casual fan perspective, in that, partway through the fourth quarter, I couldn't quite decide who to cheer for.  I mean, yeah, sure, "Go U.S.A.!  Rah!  Rah!" and all that.  But then I started thinking about how totally depressing it would be for Puerto Rico if they collapsed and lost what was a 20+ point lead.  I mean, Carlos Arroyo was playing some serious basketball and was most definitely the MVP of this game -- and if the USA came back, the news reports would just be, "USA wins in a squeaker," rather than, "Carlos Arroyo has the game of his life."  Ultimately, I did end up applauding for Puerto Rico from my living room sofa -- they deserved it.

Props to Allen Iverson and the rest of Team USA for taking it with grace.  When you're dealing with these multi-gazillion-aire NBA stars who have just suffered a pretty humiliating loss, you almost expect them to be whiny and petulant about it -- but post-game handshakes and interviews showed a Team USA that gave credit where it was due and accepted blame for being outplayed.

And speaking of post-game interviews...

More on the Blaine Wilson non-story.  This here article (AOL link:AOL News - P. Hamm Will Cap U.S. Quest With Risky Routine) points out an interesting change in scoring I'd been unaware of.  Up until now (including the qualifying round yesterday) gymnastics competition worked like this:  you got 6 guys on your team.  You put 5 of them up an each event.  The top 4 scores count.  But for the finals; this is how it will work:  you still got 6 guys on your team.  You put 3 up on each event.  All 3 scores count.

What does this mean?  Well, for starters, it means that the so-called last-minute rule change (which Blaine Wilson thought was an attempt at cheating) doesn't mean diddley -- because, seeing as it only affected 2 gymnasts, they don't even have to perform on the high bar in the finals.  (And it isn't likethe U.S. was in any danger of not qualifying, which is all that mattered yesterday.  The scores don't carry over.)

I further read that the rule-change affected a third US gymnast, although he didn't change his routine because his routine was otherwise scored out of a 10 anyway (because it was hard enough without it).  In which case: no harm, no foul.  That gymnast -- Brett McClure -- will join two other (non-affected) US gymnasts on that event in the team finals.  (And those other two -- being as they were good enough to make the Individual Event Finals in the event -- were most likely expected to be in the team finals on High Bar anyway.)

To sum up -- what Wilson says was "cheating" on the part of the Japanese head judge would have exactly zero affect on the team competition. 


olddog299 said...

Thanks for that.  I didn't understand what the whole hoorah was about, either.  As you pointed out - why not just keep the routine the same and take the 2/10 deduction for the group scores...  And does it affect the individual competition?

One thing that bothers me though, is why in hell is Puerto Rico able to compete as a separate country?  They are a protectorate of the United States of America.  Their citizens are our citizens.  They have social security, medicare and federal welfare programs, all funded by the US taxpayer.  So WTF are they doing competeing head-to-head, mano a mano, with the US team?

Oh well, glad they had a good one - the US basketball team needed to be brought down a peg or two.

nzforme said...

P.S.  Puerto Rican citizens are not citizens of the U.S.  They can't, for instance, vote.  They have no representation in Congress.  Make 'em the 51st State and THEN you can do away with the Puerto Rican Olympic team.